Have you noticed how everything goes into slow motion when something catastrophic is about to happen? I saw out of the corner of my eye the paper cup holding coke tilt precariously and before I could break a cold sweat or cry out it joyfully upturned.
It happened thusly.
I was on the flight back to Delhi after a three day visit to Kolkata and wondering whether I should get the exorbitant foil-wrapped sandwich that came for Rs 125 a pair.
But my passenger next to me turned his nose up on my query "is the sandwich any good?" and that decided it.
So I got cookies instead and a juice, which turned out worse. I don't know is its the airline's policy to endorse health food or not, but the cookies seemed to be made from bajra.
Anyway, so this plump lady sitting right behind me in the aisle seat had been minding her own business and reading erich segal's doctors. (I know! I love that book too). The paper plates were cleared away and I tilted my seat back to settle in for some shut-eye when it happened. Seems that she had not got her tray back up and her coke perched on it did a wild twirl and splat! all over her obviously expensive cargo pants.
For the instant it took the wetness to seep through to her skin I grit my teeth and turned around. "Uh-oh, this doesn't look good, does it?" The lady said quite cheerfully.
I could not believe my ears. I have just spilled coke on her pants and she looks like her parents did not toilet train her and all she says is uh-oh? Is there a God after all?
"Hi, I'm Ritu and I'm the clumsiest oaf on planet earth," I managed. "I have a spare shorts in my duffel, do you want it? I mean do you want to change into it for the rest of the flight?" RED ALERT! RED ALERT! I'm blabbering!
But with the sweetest smile she says, "you are wrong you know. I'M the clumsiest person I know, and I'm not going to give it up for some new plane acquaintance." Lord, what is she doing to me?
As it happens in India, one thing led to another and soon we were swapping cards, recipes, places to but cheap make-up and bitching about the men in our lives and having a jolly good time.
It was only when we were about to walk out arm-in-arm that I casually mentioned, "you know, had it been any developed country like UK or US of A, you would have been asking me for damages."
A weird look came in her eyes, "you know I had not even thought about that.... you mean for the discomfort i endured, i could sue for damages?"
I gulped visibly.
"GOTCHA!!!!" my new friend said and poked me in the rib. Thank god for India and its jolly breed of people!